For Immediate Release:
January 10, 2005
Stephany Seay 406-646-0070
West Yellowstone, Montana - This morning in Helena, Montana’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission voted 4-1 to cancel a proposed and highly controversial buffalo hunt that would have begun on January 15.
Buffalo Field Campaign (BFC) applauded the Commission’s decision. BFC has been vocally opposed to the proposed hunt, and had encouraged their supporters to apply for permits with the intention of not using them. A few members of BFC were present at today’s meeting, and spoke to the Commission, encouraging them to take Governor Schweitzer’s lead, listen to the public, listen to reason and logic, and cancel the hunt.
Part of the reason for the Buffalo Field Campaign’s opposition to the hunt as proposed is on the grounds that buffalo aren’t afforded any habitat within Montana’s borders, not even on publicly owned lands. Once they step foot outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park and into Montana, they are harassed and treated like a nuisance animal. The only exception being the Eagle Creek Special Management Area located within Gallatin National Forest, adjacent to Yellowstone National Park, and this is precisely where buffalo would have been gunned down.
“What we are saying is simple: no habitat, no hunt,” said Josh Osher of the Buffalo Field Campaign. “We’re not against hunting, we’re against this hunt. Once buffalo have been allowed to establish a viable population within Montana, and once they are respected and valued as a wildlife species, then we can talk about a hunt.”
Another serious concern the BFC had regarding this hunt was that Montana’s Department of Livestock (DOL), rather than Fish, Wildlife and Parks, would have been the agency authorizing the hunt.
“The DOL has demonstrated for nearly a decade that they are ill-equipped to manage buffalo or any wildlife species in any capacity,” said Dan Brister, eight-year veteran of BFC. “Allowing this hunt to happen under their authority would set a horrible precedent for buffalo and all wildlife. The DOL should stick to managing and inspecting livestock, while buffalo management authority should be returned to Fish, Wildlife and Parks.”
The Buffalo Field Campaign applauded Montana’s new governor last Thursday when he took action to stop this hunt, but the group cautions that buffalo are still under attack from state and federal agencies – including the Department of Livestock and National Park Service – signed on to the Interagency Bison Management Plan, a highly controversial plan designed to quell the misplaced fears of Montana’s livestock industry.
“Canceling the hunt was absolutely the right thing to do, and we celebrate this decision and applaud the actions of Governor Schweitzer and the Commission,” said Mike Mease, subsistence hunter and cofounder of the Buffalo Field Campaign. “Buffalo, however, will continue to suffer hazing, capture, test-and-slaughter, and will still be under the gun whenever they step foot outside Yellowstone National Park. Cattle have infected our wildlife with brucellosis, and because of this buffalo suffer extremely harsh management tactics. Montana’s cattle industry has been holding wild buffalo prisoner for far too long, and we are determined to change the status quo with the Governor’s help.”
Buffalo Field Campaign is the only group working in the field, everyday, to stop the slaughter of Yellowstone's wild buffalo. Volunteers defend the buffalo on their traditional winter habitat and advocate for their protection.